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2 March 2018
Europe is still gripped by Fintech revolution, and 2018 will be a crucial year, with seismic developments ranging from Brexit ructions to the onset of GDPR (The General Data Protection Regulation), the implementation of PSD2 (Revised Payment Service Directive) and the ongoing evolution of blockchain-based services.
In many ways, Europe represents the perfect storm in terms of the challenges and opportunities that Fintech portends. And startups are in the driving seat. This article highlights the top Fintech firms in the hottest European hubs, which we consider worth watching in 2018.
Revolut started life as a mobile wallet app to help customers avoid fees when sending and receiving money in foreign currencies. Once signed up users get a physical MasterCard. You top up the card from your debit account and when you make purchases abroad, the card exchanges the money into the local currency so that you do not get hit with any fees. Customers can also easily send money to friends through popular channels like WhatsApp.
Even though it does not yet have a banking license, the startup launched its own version of a current account in February 2017, so the UK customers can get a personal International Bank Account Number (IBAN) through the app. This means customers can transfer money from an existing bank account and route their salary directly to Revolut, but not direct debits.
The app also added spending categorization, bill-splitting, remote card freeze and a chatbot to handle support requests. It followed up with the launch of a premium service in March 2017, allowing customers to spend, transfer and exchange unlimited amounts of money in 23 currencies without any fees for £6.99 a month.
Chip is an automated savings app, which links up with your current account. The Chip algorithm calculates how much you can afford to save and transfer it to a Chip savings account – held with Barclays – adjusting all the time depending on spending habits.
Users of Chip simply have to download the iOS or Android app and grant Chip read-only access to their online banking through an encrypted API.
Chip currently works with Barclays, HSBC, Santander, Lloyds, NatWest, Nationwide, RBS, TSB, Halifax, First Direct, Cooperative Bank and Metro Bank.
The mobile savings app is a busy space, with rivals like Facebook messenger, Plum and Moneybox apps offering alternatives, but Chip’s founder Simon Rabin, who created and sold the roaming charge-avoiding Roamer app, says that savings are just the start, with other financial services in its sights.
Founded in 2010 by Brett Meyers, CurrencyFair allows individuals and businesses to exchange currencies and send funds to bank accounts worldwide. When you use CurrencyFair, you will actually do two easy domestic bank transfers (which are about 90% cheaper and quicker) instead of one big international transfer (which is slower and more expensive).
With CurrencyFair, you not only avoid huge fees, you can also choose your own exchange rate. There are two exchange options:
Paymeabit is an Italian value network, a place where it is easy to earn bits. Paymeabit mechanism is very easy: every time a user adds a “like” to a blog post, a video or a song, the content creator is given a bit, corresponding to a fraction of Bitcoin that is less than a Euro cent.
The platform also allows the selling of digital items to a certain price. The official coin is Bitcoin. The safe thing about this system is that transactions happen without intermediaries and on a database where they are constantly validated.
All the bits received by Paymeabit users will be stored in the digital wallet associated with individual user’s account. Users can also add or withdraw Bitcoin from the wallet whenever they want, just like any other Bitcoin wallet.
Europe is certainly well placed for new Fintech startups emerging in terms of necessary skills, financing for innovation, availability of capital. Brexit is also expected to provide opportunities for other EU financial centers to challenge London’s status as Europe’s main Fintech hub, as entrepreneurs weigh up whether they need to relocate to remain within the bloc. And possibly, not far off are the times when one or several European countries will be an ideal place for the development of Fintech industry in the world.
Exciting articles several times a month